Seasoned web programmers hate PHP against other programming technologies. Reasons seem logical because each coin has two facets, one looks good while another ugly. The ugly face of PHP has following characteristics:
- PHP is suffering from constant bends, hacks, twists, and stretches in various aspects including syntax, architecture, and paradigms.
- It is often buggy and inconsistent.
- Each version of PHP comes with unique features, warts, and quirks. It makes tracking of issues daunting.
However, the worst thing is Internet is filled up with numerous different solutions from old to new for a single problem that confuse the developer a lot. The same issues we have observed in the case of PHP developers working here in Perception System.
Therefore, we have decided to issue the best guide that gives complete direction to mitigate the said issues. The detailed guide is for the internal usage, but I have given some outlines herein benefits of my readers.
Of course, don’t misunderstand it as a PHP tutorial, problem-solving guide, security guide, or advocate of certain coding style/pattern/framework guide.
Proper Documentation Approaches
Maintaining comments, indentation, white spacing, and line length are some useful coding practices that make code document readable and comprehensive for editing next time.
Comments in the code provide an opportunity to the developer to cite the purpose of the code and logic behind it. It helps another developer to get it all while upgrading or modifying the code.
Of course, excessive comments make code document lengthy and heavy in size that hastens the loading speed. Therefore, make only meaningful comments at essential places.
Indentations make code hierarchy clear and improve readability, as well as debugging easy. We used to keep an indent of four (4) spaces and avoid using Tab key because the setting of Tab key differs from one PC to another. Moreover, our PHP developers try to cut the length of one line less than 80 characters for the sake of readability in various devices.
Maintain Versioning & Coding Standard Properly
Working in a collaborative development environment is a norm here for PHP development team, and we try to maintain common coding standards and versioning using the latest version management technologies.
If we don’t implement common coding standards, styles of developers may differ from each other and create havoc in documents in terms of comprehension and readability.
Avoid Use of Short Tags or Shortcuts in PHP Code
We have often noticed that some PHP developers use short tags. For example, “<?” instead of “<?php” and similar in other instances too. Shortcode or shortcuts in the code create parsing problems with XML parsers as well as incompatibility with upgraded versions of PHP. Therefore, we strictly prohibit the use of short tags or shortcuts in coding and make it fully readable by doing complete tags/coding.
Follow Naming Conventions in PHP Code
While giving names to the variable and functions as well as in other code, we use meaningful and contextually aligned names. Standard naming conventions indicate the use of grammatically sensible and generic names. Anything odd may prove painful experiences to the other programmers who would work later on.
Try to use underscores to separate words instead of creating own rules. So, other people can understand the code easily and quickly.
Lastly, the biggest online brands, such as Facebook, Digg, ProProfs, Technorati, Yahoo, and Flickr! are powered by PHP.
Follow the rules for Quoted Strings
Two types of quotes used to denote quoted strings. Single quotes and double quotes. While to display simple string, we use single quotes and for variables and special characters in the string, use double quotes.
It is because single quotes string parsed by PHP rapidly in comparison to double quotes strings. Similarly, you have to use single quotes around array indexes because PHP considers unquoted strings in array indexes as constants.
Undefined constant proves a potential bug in the code, so you have to understand the difference between $array[quotes’] and $array[quotes] properly.
Avoid Use of Functions inside Loops
We know loop runs repeatedly. If you place a function inside the loop, it will execute every time the loop runs. It can increase time and complexity of code when you have large loops with functions.
Therefore, we try to store the value returned by the function in a separate variable before the loop.
Understand Strings Properly
String operations may slow the performance of the code and its execution. For instance, if you use “print” string in code and ‘echo” statement in another, “echo” will execute rapidly.
Similarly, if we use concatenation operation instead of variables inline, it will go fast. Finally, if no string operation being performed at all and used a list of comma separated strings, it will go super fast!
The following code example confirms it.
$a = ‘PHP’;
print “This is my first $a program.”;
echo “This is my first $a program.”;
echo “This is my first “.$a.” program.”;
echo “This is my first ”,$a” program.”;
Always Turn on Error Reporting Functionality of PHP
PHP has many awesome built-in debugging and error reporting features that prevent the application before any mishap if PHP developer is aware of the potential.
Error_reporting() is one of the powerful function available in PHP. Besides it, e_notice, e_warning, e_parse, and finally, e_all get all kinds of error reports to mitigate potential errors and bugs during your PHP application development process.
Take DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) Approach
It is a common programming concept in the software industry where the repeating code is avoided in most cases to cut down code redundancy.
Avoid Deep Nesting
Many PHP developers have a habit of nesting the code overtly, and it ends up with deep nesting phenomena. Technically, deep nesting makes debugging the code daunting and pave ways to hacking. Therefore, try to use conditions logically and avoid deep nesting phenomena at all.
Avoid Placing phpinfo() in the Root Directory
PHP has a handy function phpinfo() to extract the details of server environment when a small file created with following code and place in the root directory of PHP application/website.
Unfortunately, if a developer forgets to remove this file from the root directory, it will become a potential source for hackers to look into the application and server itself and pose potential security threats.
Use PHP Manual Explicitly & Frequently
Official PHP platform documenting each new major version of PHP thoroughly and PHP manual act as the best friend of PHP developer. Its every article has useful comments for the PHP developers.
Leverage the Best IDE for PHP Coding
In the past PHP developers were coding in Notepad like basic tools. Today we have a number of excellent IDE (Integrated Development Environment) available. For example, phpDesigner, phpStorm, NetBeans, PHP Introduction and Resources with a range of useful features including Code Completion, Syntax Highlighting, Navigation, Debugging, Documentation, and many others.
Therefore, we provide the latest and advanced IDEs for PHP coding to our PHP programmers.
Leverage the Best PHP Framework
PHP is a versatile programming script for server-side coding. The unmanaged code creates havoc in the system and ends up with a pile of non-functional or buggy code. Therefore, PHP frameworks have invented to do organized coding with speed and quality.
Therefore, most of the PHP frameworks follow MVC paradigm and give cost-effective outputs with fast turnover.
We have passionate PHP developers who have used almost all famous and highly used PHP frameworks. Moreover, we insist out PHP team to learn trendy PHP frameworks for excellent and organized coding.
Create PHP Development Environment Locally
Creating local server environment for PHP development project is demanding several resources like a web server, database, networking, and much more. Therefore, we use the best available local hosting solutions like XAMPP, WAMP, MAMP, and others instead of installing each component separately.
These tools provide easy configuration and rapid setup of the local server.
Take Object-oriented Approaches
Against POP, OOP offers a higher level of freedom and flexibility to the PHP developers. It also cuts the length of code considerably. It organizes the code to ease the debugging and error finding.
Take Regular Upgrades & Updates
Each new version of PHP, be it minor or major, comes with some useful and critical improvements. Most of the improvements come on bug fixing, security, performance, and user experiences areas.
If you want to stay ahead in your competitions in the fiercely competitive environment, you must follow regular update program and use automatic upgrading tools for your PHP application on the server.
Take Team Work Approaches
Today we have the majority of PHP development projects with complexities and demanding a big team of PHP programmers working on different aspects of the application. It requires collaborative approaches where teamwork quality is essential. In due course, we use the latest PMS, communication channels, and GitHub like collaboration and version management platforms.
Our PHP Developers have access to the latest updates in the market and best assistance to code pushing their boundaries.
As we have cited before that, this post is outlining our best practices and standards for PHP coding. If you want to leverage our high standard coding in your PHP projects, feel free to discuss your PHP development project with our team.